After facing intense backlash for rejecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications that were caught up at postal offices, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has reversed its stance. Recipients had postmarked their applications on time, but they didn’t reach USCIS until after the October 5 deadline. The agency is now inviting them to re-file their applications, with evidence of their initial mailing.
The announcement comes after uproar from immigration advocates from New York City and Chicago who said as many as 81 applications were sent “well before” deadline but sat in transit – and in some cases within the same city – for up to 20 days before being delivered to USCIS. The decision is hailed as the biggest reversal to date on immigration policy under President Donald Trump’s administration, Vox reports.
Lawyers rushed to help DACA recipient ensure timely and accurate filing of their applications after Trump announced the phasing out of DACA, which is a program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, in September. Recipients whose status expired before March 5 were allowed to re-apply for a two-year DACA renewal.
After getting word of rejections, lawyers and other advocates worried the applications may have been sent out in vain. But the reversal means a second chance for many applicants.
“USCIS did the right thing by reversing course and allowing DACA applicants who filed on time to reapply,” Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, wrote in a press release.
“The New York Immigration Coalition, together with our legal services network, I-ARC, raised the alarm early and won a major victory for our clients,” he said. “This means that hundreds of people have new hope for the future. We now call on USCIS to accept all applications impacted by the mail delays as well as any supposed clerical errors that applicants can quickly remedy.”
The Trump administration doesn’t guarantee the re-filed applications will be approved, adding that 4,000 total applications arrived late. The agency said it will soon release details about refunds (the fee is a hefty $495) and date of the new deadline.